Dear Washington Evaluators,
Happy New Year! As I begin my year as Washington Evaluators President, I would like to start by thanking Patricia Shaffer, WE’s 2020 President, as well as the 2020 Board of Directors and our committee members for an incredible year. 2020 was a challenge for us as it was for so many others. And yet, our board did an amazing job of pivoting us to a new online reality while still maintaining programming, communications, member services and community engagement activities. Please join me in thanking them for their hard work and commitment to our members.
As we look to 2021, we are still facing a great deal of uncertainty. We don’t know what the future holds. But the thing about uncertainty is that it is also an opportunity for innovation and exploration. So my goals for Washington Evaluators focus on supporting one another while also exploring our purpose and vision for the years ahead.
In this moment, Washington Evaluators is at a cross-roads. With the development of our new strategic plan in the coming months, we are being called to think critically about the past, re-commit to the values and activities that we want to carry forward, and find new ways of engaging and creating value for our membership and our community.
My greatest hope is that we will emerge from 2021 with a clear sense of purpose, a vision for the future and the confidence that this vision serves the needs of our membership and our community. To support these goals, we will focus on the following opportunities:
As we look ahead, we are fortunate to have at the helm of WE an incredible board for 2021 (see flipgrid introductions here). Together, we are all excited to serve you, our members, and we are optimistic for the future. But we cannot do it alone. As in previous years, we will need your support to achieve our goals. You can help to create our vision for the future and build the community we want to be a part of. Here are just a few ways that you can help:
Washington Evaluators is requesting proposals for a Consultant to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into WE's strategic planning process. Proposals are due Nov. 2, 2020.
Washington Evaluators serves the evaluation community by advocating for the growth of the evaluation profession and by fostering state-of the art knowledge and information sharing about evaluation practice. The organization’s current strategic plan, which covers operations from 2017-2020, includes four key strategic goals: strengthening the sustainability of the evaluation community; enhancing evaluation relationships and interactions; supporting individual evaluators' professional development needs; and ensuring strong administration of the organization.
As the organization begins to develop a new strategic plan for 2021-2024, and in light of WE’s 2020 commitments to integrating anti-racism into our programming, membership, community engagement, and communication activities, and administration/operations, the WE board wishes to engage a Consultant to solicit membership inputs on strategic priorities and the integration of a DEI lens to inform the organization’s 2021-2024 strategic plan.
Qualified candidates will be expert in designing and facilitating interactive and participatory online meetings using Zoom (or equivalent) technology; have experience with strategic planning at the organizational level; and have expert knowledge in DEI theories, practices, and standards and experience applying this knowledge in a professional setting. People of color, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and people with other marginalized identities are strongly encouraged to apply. Due to the virtual nature of this scope of work, we will consider qualified candidates living anywhere in the US; travel to the Washington, DC area is not required.
Washington Evaluators is a 100% volunteer organization, and it is the committed work of our volunteer Board, committee members, mentors, and Evaluation Without Borders team members that allows our organization to offer a wide range of community services and member benefits, including Mentor Minutes, the New Professional Scholarship, and professional development and networking events.
Within the next month, we begin the process of recruiting our 2021 WE Board. Board nominations and elections will be announced soon for the Treasurer and President Elect positions. There are also opportunities to volunteer for committee chair positions that are appointed to the WE Board, including for Communications, Community Engagement, Membership, and Programs. Not interested in joining the Board but would still like to volunteer? Consider signing up as a volunteer for one of these committees.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to grow professionally, meet new friends, and expand your professional network. Join us at our August 19th Board meeting to learn more about our organization and to see how you might get involved.
The 2020 Board of Directors has published an Action Plan to guide the organization’s activities this year. In following the approval of the Washington Evaluators Strategic Plan for 2017-2020, this Action Plan outlines the Board’s commitment to achieving the broader objectives of the organization, ensuring that the association operates efficiently for the benefit of its dues-paying members and the broader evaluation community in the Washington, D.C. area.
The 2020 Action Plan identifies for each objective specific action steps, associated deadlines and milestones, and the responsible person or committee. At the end of this year, we will provide an update to our members, illustrating the progress we have made on these items.
It is appropriate to note that as the Board prepared this plan during March and April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, forcing the Board to consider how the organization connects and supports our community at a time when meeting in person is no longer possible. For this reason, activities and events discussed in this Action Plan may be virtual in format rather than in-person. What matters is that we continue to offer opportunities to nurture our community of practice and build capacity for public good.
We are excited to continue our association’s strong tradition of promoting the field of evaluation in the Washington, D.C. area in 2020, and we thank our members for supporting and sustaining a strong community of local evaluators.
Patricia Moore Shaffer
Sign up to volunteer with a Washington Evaluator Committee
Washington Evaluators is devoted to strengthening and sustaining the evaluation community in the Washington DC area by recruiting and helping to educate the next generation of evaluators. Part of this year's Next Generation 2020 focus on students, the “New Professional Scholarship" supports new professionals in integrating state-of-the-art knowledge and information sharing into their evaluation practices and approaches within their respective organizations and/or future practice.
Washington Evaluators is pleased to announce our 2020 New Professional Scholarship recipients: Fanni Farago and Bryce Leary.
Fanni Farago is a first-year Sociology PhD student at George Mason University and a Research Assistant at the Center for Social Science Research. Prior to attending Mason, she obtained her Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Houston. Fanni is also a first-generation Hungarian-American immigrant with strong personal ties to her hometown, Budapest. This scholarship opens the door for her formal program evaluation training, which she will apply to advance a graduate student-run evaluation project for a local nonprofit.
Bryce Leary is from Falmouth, Maine, and received his BA in Political Science at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. He then spent two years in Senegal extending sustainable agricultural techniques as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Following this experience, Bryce joined the International Development Master's program at the School of International Service with a concentration in Evaluation and is graduating this May. Bryce is excited to use the New Professional Scholarship to jump-start his career and promote the evaluation community in Washington, DC.
It was only two weeks ago that life was still normal, when going to work meant a commute on the Metro and a work day meant a day in the office among colleagues. Two weeks later, our world has profoundly changed. Our lives have become home-based, with our worklife (if we still have a job) becoming a string of video-conferences that distract us, at least momentarily, from the rising counts of COVID-19 cases we hear on the news. Heading out to the grocery store is now a major event, and the sound of coughing in a public space brings on a sense of dread.
In the midst of this chaos, many of us have also experienced uplifting moments of connection. My video-conferences during the past two weeks have been unusually intimate, often beginning with informal sharing of how we've been impacted by the pandemic and punctuated by the sounds of pets or children that give us insights into the personal lives of clients and colleagues. These digital connections make us all feel a bit closer to each other despite being physically apart. And this matters deeply during a time when the world we've known all our lives seems to be unraveling.
I was delighted to read Michael Quinn Patton's post, Evaluation Implications of the Coronavirus Global Health Pandemic Emergency, which helped me to reflect on the impacts of this crisis on our evaluation practice. He ends the article by challenging us to support each other as an evaluation community. "Buddy up. Stay connected to other evaluators. Participate actively in our professional networks and associations. . . . Think about what contributions you can make, as an evaluator, to mitigate the crisis."
To help us stay connected to each other, Washington Evaluators is offering to members a series of online discussions with thought leaders in our field during the next few months. Aly Lopez of the Center for Evaluation Innovation kicks off our series on April 8 with a discussion about how leaders can affect evaluation capacity building in foundations. On April 22, Donna Mertens discusses the role of transformative evaluation in international development. Michael Quinn Patton rounds out the series with his reflections on evaluation during the pandemic on May 6. Please join the discussion, connect with your peers, and reflect on our potential as leaders improving the world we live in.
I also encourage you to get involved in Evaluation Without Borders, which is currently recruiting evaluators and community-based organizations and nonprofits seeking program planning, measurement, and evaluation services. Perhaps there has been no greater time of need for nonprofits than now. Please share this opportunity with your network.
The Washington Evaluators is devoted to strengthening and sustaining the evaluation community in the Washington DC area by recruiting and helping to educate the next generation of evaluators. Building on our theme of building capacity for public good, Washington Evaluators announces its Next Generation 2020 initiative to support students in the field of program evaluation. This month, WE launches the 2020 “New Professional Scholarship" competition. This scholarship is intended to support new professionals in integrating state-of-the-art knowledge and information sharing into their evaluation practices and approaches within their respective organizations and/or future practice. The Scholarship serves as one means to recruit new professionals into the evaluation community and facilitate continued diversity in the profession. The Scholarship is open to new professionals, currently enrolled students, postdocs and new graduates.
Later this month, students are encouraged to join WE for its first career-focused event for students: the DC SCEP - Washington Evaluators Graduate Student Career Fair and Networking Event. Held on Friday, March 27, at George Washington University, this career fair and networking event provides graduate students with an excellent opportunity to connect with DC-area employers hiring program evaluators. Employers confirmed to attend include Center for Global Health Engagement, EnCompass, Government Accountability Office, Guidehouse, Ipsos Public Affairs, IREX, Itad, Mercy Corps, and Millennium Challenge Corporation. This free event is co-sponsored by the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Administration's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, Washington Evaluators, and Mirror Group, LLC.
WE encourages our members to support local evaluation students and emerging evaluators by serving as mentors. Mentor Minutes is an initiative that pairs experienced evaluators (mentors) with aspiring, emerging, or seasoned evaluators (mentees) and establish mutually beneficial professional connections. Mentors can provide feedback regarding careers, reflect on their professional experiences, and help build the capacity and networks of emerging evaluators. Mentees, in contrast, will be able to glean insights from mentors regarding academic and professional pathways, technical advice, and general networking.
Thanks to the amazing group of WE Board and committee members and volunteers responsible for supporting students this year: Mindelyn Anderson, Emily Bango, Val Caracelli, Sue Cottrell, Danielle Gilmore, Bryce Leary, and Beeta Tahmassebi.
WE began 2020 with a bold commitment to build the capacity of individuals and organizations to engage in evaluation. No other initiative better illustrates our organization's commitment to build capacity for public good than Evaluation Without Borders, which matches evaluators to non-profits and community-based organizations seeking program planning, measurement, and evaluation services.
In line with the goals of the American Evaluation Association, we hope to not only create opportunities where local nonprofits can build their knowledge and skills to engage in evaluation, but to also create opportunities where evaluators can provide useful services and meaningfully engage with communities across the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.
For participating nonprofits, Washington Evaluators builds a team of DC-based evaluators interested in providing pro bono services. Teams work together on projects that vary based on the needs and assets of each nonprofit and community-based organization. The timeframe of each project will vary; however, a memorandum of understanding will be developed to establish expectations between evaluation teams and clients. Projects are likely to include on-site training on various planning, measurement or evaluation topics for local staff; developing performance measures or data collection instruments; reviewing data sets; assisting with evaluation design; or, conducting an evaluation study. After each project has been completed, Washington Evaluators will follow up with evaluation teams and clients in order to learn how the program can continue to be improved.
Evaluation Without Borders relies on volunteers to make this initiative a success. For evaluators and members of Washington Evaluators interested in providing pro bono support to nonprofits and community-based organizations, please click here to access our pro bono evaluator interest form.
For nonprofits or community-based organizations interested in working with professional evaluators, please click here to access our client interest form.
Special thanks to Evaluation Without Borders coordinator Laura O'Brien and Community Engagement Chair Emily Bango for leading the initiative this year.
Happy New Year, Washington Evaluators members! As I begin my year as WE President, I would like to thank Giovanni Dazzo, WE’s 2019 President, as well as the 2019 Board of Directors and its committee members. This incredibly talented group of volunteers worked tirelessly last year to provide highly engaging activities and services for members, ranging from professional development programs to museum visits and mentoring experiences. We also officially launched our pro bono evaluation support program, Evaluation Without Borders. During 2019, Washington Evaluators experienced unparalleled growth, with our membership increasing to just shy of 400 members.
We begin 2020 with a very successful year behind us, and a most auspicious year ahead – the start of a new decade. Some of you may recall that six years ago, the American Evaluation Association (AEA) board embarked on a multi-year discussion to reimagine the association in 2020. AEA’s Ends Goals statements projected a forward-thinking vision for 2020 as to “how the organization, its members and society as a whole would be impacted if AEA were successful in all of its endeavors.” Rereading these Ends Goals in 2020, they hold up well – an aspirational vision for an evaluation community of practice in which:
- Members interact to promote high quality evaluation practice and professional leadership.
- Members benefit from professional affiliation, leadership opportunities, and inclusion within a diverse community.
- Members have the competencies needed to engage in high quality evaluation that is edifying, ethical, culturally and contextually responsive, useful, and that demonstrates scholarship.
- Student members have ample opportunities to develop the leadership skills and competencies needed to practice evaluation, contribute to the association, and the evaluation knowledge base.
- Evaluation contributes to increased public understanding of challenging issues and solutions.
As the organization’s president this year, my primary goal is to support Washington Evaluators’ continued growth as a community of practice that fulfills this vision. To that end, my priorities focus on two broad themes: 1) building capacity for public good, and 2) nurturing our community of practice.
Building capacity for public good. We begin 2020 with a bold commitment to building the capacity of individuals and organizations to engage in evaluation. The new Community Engagement committee is charged with overseeing initiatives that intentionally grow and sustain our evaluation community of practice and extend the reach of evaluation into the broader Washington, DC, community, and beyond. This committee will provide opportunities for members to develop through mentoring and to build capacity of local non-profits and community-based organizations through the continuing pro bono initiative, Evaluation Without Borders, which matches evaluators to non-profits and community-based organizations seeking program planning, measurement, and evaluation services.
Support for emerging evaluators is an important focus this year. This year, we will offer our New Professional Scholarship, which provides support to new evaluators interested in attending courses at The Evaluators’ Institute. WE will also engage our organizational sponsors in supporting a career fair for students. These activities help ensure a strong start for the next generation of evaluators in our community.
Nurturing our community of practice. The 2020 Board will proudly sustain community-building through professional development and networking activities. Members can build professional competencies by participating in a book discussion or attending a brown bag presentation, or expand their networks at a happy hour, or simply get to know their evaluation peers while touring a museum or visiting a local nonprofit on a field trip – whatever your motivation or interest for getting involved with Washington Evaluators, you’ll find programs that meet your needs. Watch for a members’ survey soon where you can provide input on the types of members-only programming and communications that you would like to see.
WE is a 100% volunteer organization, and we benefit from strong partners that help us serve our community better. I’d like to recognize The Evaluators’ Institute, which provides a discount on course registration to Washington Evaluators members in addition to co-sponsoring events throughout the year; and The IBM Center for The Business of Government, which hosts Washington Evaluators presentations quarterly in their downtown D.C. offices. I’d also like to recognize our newest partner, SUNY/Center for International Development, who recently agreed to provide WE members a discount on its Adaptive Management Theory and Practice for International Development course and plans to co-sponsor a lecture event this March. A special thanks is also owed to our organizational sponsors – leaders in demonstrating support for evaluation in our region, and partnering with us on professional development and networking events.
Finally, I challenge our members to get actively involved in WE: join us at events, sign up as a volunteer or mentor, and participate in Board meetings and events. When I first joined WE in 2011, I began attending events hoping to learn more about my new field of practice. I found in WE more than I expected: opportunities to grow professionally, new friends, and, through my board involvement, a chance to grow and flex my leadership skills. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to get more involved with WE in 2020 and become an active contributor to building our community of practice in the Washington, D.C. area.
Patricia Moore Shaffer
To read the 2019 Annual Report, please click here.
Dear Washington Evaluators Members:
On behalf of the 2019 Washington Evaluators (WE) Board of Directors, I would like to thank you all for your continued engagement as members, and your energy in supporting our mission to enhance our local evaluation community.
Before I continue my last message as President, I would like to thank the Board with whom I had the pleasure of serving alongside this year, including: President-Elect, Patricia Moore Shaffer; Treasurer, Beeta Tahmassebi; Secretary, Kevin Jones; Program Chair, Melissa Chiu; Membership Chair, Natalie Donahue; New Professional and Student Task Force Chair, Val Caracelli; Scholarship Task Force Chair, Tamarah Moss; Evaluators Without Borders Coordinator, Emily Eisenhauer; and, Mentor Minutes Coordinator, Emily Bango.
As I entered this year as WE President, I sought to promote two themes: (i) evaluation as community, and (ii) evaluators in the community. Throughout the year, the Board was interested in not only ensuring that members could learn from fellow evaluators, but that our members could meet on a more personal and engaged level.
This year, we truly saw the growth of our community, experiencing unparalleled growth with a net increase of 119 dues-paying members. This was the first time since WE began tracking dues-paying membership, that we reached over 100 new members in one year.
Throughout the year, we held our usual professional development events and social gatherings, continuing what we have done well in the past. However, we also organized museum visits, field trips, and book club style events that focused on issues of equity and inclusion, calling on evaluators to think critically (and evaluatively) on how their skills could be applied to question and confront today’s difficult and pressing problems. We also officially launched our pro bono evaluation support program, Evaluation Without Borders—stemming from our successful initiative during the 2017 AEA conference—which provided a space for members to offer hands-on support to advance the social justice missions of their pro bono clients, educate others about our discipline, and learn more about the important work done by non-profits and community-based organizations.
These are just a few of the achievements we saw in 2019, and I welcome you to review more of these successes, as well as areas for improvement, in our Annual Report.
As President, I hope that our activities helped you to more meaningfully engage with your fellow evaluators, but that they also spurred you to question how, as evaluators, we should think about how we can contribute to a more equitable and democratic society.
Giovanni P. Dazzo
2019 WE Board President
(c) 2017 Washington Evaluators